CY Leung nomination for China advisory body role ‘a reward’ for efforts to curb Hong Kong pro-independence forces

Expected appointment of Hong Kong’s leader to nation’s top advisory body is acknowledgement of his work to curb separatist forces, state leader tells advisers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 February, 2017, 2:03pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 March, 2017, 2:29pm

Outgoing Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s expected appointment to China’s top advisory body is an acknowledgement of his efforts to curb pro-independence forces in Hong Kong, state leader Yu Zhengsheng told the city’s advisers to Beijing on Monday.

Leung has been nominated to become a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), with its standing committee set to discuss and approve the matter on Tuesday. He is also expected to be elected vice-chairman at the closing of the CPPCC’s annual session on March 13, which would effectively make him an elder statesman.

CPPCC standing committee member Chan Wing-kee said special meaning was attached to the chief executive’s appointment to the national body.

“First, it means the central government values Hong Kong,” he said. “Second, Leung made high achievements during Occupy [protests in 2014], and did his utmost in suppressing Hong Kong independence forces.

“Third, it shows the central government’s insistence on ‘one country, two systems’, and negation of Hong Kong independence.”

While Chan declined to confirm if he was quoting CPPCC chairman Yu, another source with knowledge of Monday’s meeting, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the state leader had made the same points during the discussion.

The source also understood that Leung would be nominated for the vice-chairman’s post at a meeting of the CPPCC vice-chairs on March 10, which will be chaired by Yu.

The expected appointment has raised questions over whether Leung’s dual roles will contravene the one country, two systems principle, as Article 22 of the Basic Law states that no mainland authority shall meddle with Hong Kong’s internal affairs.

However, former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, who became a standing committee member of the CPPCC after being defeated by Leung in the 2012 chief executive race, said Leung’s expected appointment as a member and later vice-chairman of the nation’s top political advisory body would not hinder the city’s governing policy.

“The CPPCC is a body for ‘consultative democracy’; it is not part of the executive branch. If it is part of the executive branch, of course it’s not okay to keep both roles,” Tang said.

“But since Leung is not seeking re-election, there’s little problem for him to keep both roles in the few months remaining in his term.”

He refused to say if he would be upset by the elevation of his one-time arch-rival.

Veteran Beijing loyalists also saw no need for concern.

Standing committee member Ambrose Lau Hon-chuen said the CPPCC body should not be considered a “mainland authority”, and hence concerns over any potential conflict of interest should not exist.

“It’s not called a mainland authority. The chief executive himself is accountable to the central government. Therefore there is absolutely no conflict of interest at all,” he said.

“If Leung Chun-ying is elected vice-chairman, he can surely do both jobs simultaneously.

“It is good for Hong Kong to have one more state leader who serves the country, and the central government will have more opportunities to listen to Hong Kong’s views and care about Hong Kong.”

CPPCC delegate Lo Man-tuen also dismissed any suggestion of a potential conflict of interest.

“Some mainland provinces or departments are represented by a CPPCC vice-chairman as well. It just proves that the central government values Hong Kong,” he said.

“When Liao Hui was the director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, he was also a CPPCC vice-chairman.”

Leung sat on the CPPCC’s standing committee until his voluntarily resignation was accepted by Beijing in June 2012, weeks before he assumed office as chief executive.